Union President Says 'Vision Zero' Initiative Unfairly Targets NYC Bus Drivers

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Transit union leaders have launched an ad campaign criticizing Mayor Bill de Blasio’s “Vision Zero” traffic plan.

They say City Hall’s safety efforts have led to the unfair arrest of several of their bus drivers, CBS2’s Hazel Sanchez reported Tuesday.

“Uncuff ’em, Mayor de Blasio!” — that’s the demand coming from union leaders representing city bus drivers.

The new ad campaign by Transport Workers Union Local 100 shows Mayor de Blasio with a “Mr. Progressive” sash busting a bus driver.

“I think they’re absolutely misleading, and I think they should really think twice before they continue to spread this misinformation,” the mayor told reporters on Tuesday.

TWU 100 President John Samuelsen said de Blasio’s Vision Zero plan is unfairly targeting bus drivers with the “right of way law.”

“Bus operators are operating in a system that is flawed,” Samuelsen said.

The TWU said six bus drivers have been arrested under the right of way law, which makes it a misdemeanor for failing to yield and hit pedestrians or bicyclists who are crossing with the light.

Samuelsen said he wants the law amended to make bus drivers exempt.

“Bus operators should not be held accountable, should not be criminalized for doing exactly what the city and the MTA ordered them to do, which is operate buses with blind spots,” Samuelsen said.

“If the officer at the scene determines that it was an avoidable accident and it would merit arrest for a civilian, there would be an arrest even for a public employee,” de Blasio said in response.

Ken Bandes’ said he supports de Blasio’s efforts to make city streets safer. In 2013 Bandes’ 23-year-old daughter, Ella, was killed after she was struck by a city bus in Bushwick, Brooklyn.

Bandes, who is with the group Families for Safe Streets, said he respects bus drivers and their challenges on the road but, “That can’t be an excuse to kill people. It cannot be a reason to be exempt from the law. It just means that they have to be that much more careful.”

Union leaders said they want to make sure city leaders hear their cries, so they plan to post their ads right next to City Hall, Sanchez reported.

The TWU ads were to run in several local newspapers.